America thought it would be safer if it deported thousands of undocumented aliens who were criminals. However, it also deported hundreds of thousands of undocumented people whose only crime was a minor offense such as having a broken headlight.
A 2008 program called Secure Communities was put in place by the federal government. Its job was to work with local governments to identify people who might be in the U.S. without proper papers.
A vast database was used to try to identify people after they came into contact with police. It became a system that found some bad people, but also millions whose crime was being undocumented while their offenses were such as passing a red light.
Hundreds of thousands were deported. Thousands of families were separated.
Immigrant advocates have said for years that the Secure Communities program was out of control. They blamed the Obama administration.
In December 2014, the president issued an executive order covering the undocumented. In it, he spelled out new rules for the Secure Communities program. The new rules said only people suspected of serious crimes should be pursued.
A professor said the plan is “a sea change” from the old program.
The new Republican majority in the Congress did not like the limits placed on the Secure Communities program by the executive order. They passed a funding bill that would restore the old priorities. The president said that if the Republican-supported bill came to him, he would veto it.
After years of criticism by immigration advocates, one said, “the administration still has a big credibility hole to climb out of.”
Other parts of the executive order help the parents of children born in the U.S.A. gain legal status.
It is certain that immigration politics will be an issue leading up to the presidential election of 2016.
Source: The New York Times January 15, 2015
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